TOA AM-1 Array Microphone

Jason Lavoie

Junior
Jan 13, 2011
459
0
16
Ottawa
i have in my possession one of these units http://www.toaelectronics.com/products/wired-microphones/am-1-array-microphone
I haven't taken it out of the box yet but will be installing it in the next couple weeks so will probably have some time before I install it to test it out.

It supposedly can provide a very narrow pickup pattern but with some tracking smarts to follow the voice as it moves side to side, and even some sort of auto gain as the voice moves closer.

I'll be posting my thoughts after it is installed, but may not have many opportunities to go back and play with it later so if there is anything you suggest that I try please let me know ahead of time.

Right out of the gate I intend to put it next to a 58 and a gooseneck mic and try to compare the GBF

With an MSRP of over $3k CAD I'm expecting big things!

Jason
 

Jason Lavoie

Junior
Jan 13, 2011
459
0
16
Ottawa
Re: TOA AM-1 Array Microphone

That's why I'm curious about the rejection abilities. theoretically it could reject almost all sound coming from the speakers since it is able to triangulate that it is far away. the only sound coming in would be a reflection that happens to come in at the same angle as the close voice.
Also, they don't specify it but I suspect that the narrow pickup pattern likely drops off sharper than say a super cardioid so even without any tracking it may perform better than a regular mic.

Jason
 

Jordan Wolf

Junior
Feb 2, 2011
271
0
16
Collingswood, NJ
partner.psav.com
Re: TOA AM-1 Array Microphone

Jason,

I've been eying this mic up for a while now. I'd love to hear back about your experience - positive of negative. Maybe I can find a rental house that has one so I can try it out on a show sometime...
 

Jason Lavoie

Junior
Jan 13, 2011
459
0
16
Ottawa
Re: TOA AM-1 Array Microphone

So I haven't put it to use permanently yet but I did get to play with it on my desk as well as in a real-life situation and here are some initial observations:

1: unless I missed something the network setup is a pain (the control box that allows ipad control has an ethernet connection)
the app doesn't discover the mic so if you don't know what the IP is set to you're SOL. and I didn't see any factory reset option.

2: LOTS of flexibility in the capture/tracking settings. The unit tracks your voice and the settings allow you to set it to not track sources that are out of range (distance OR angle)

3: the acceptance angle doesn't have to be front and center. it can be asymmetrical, so for example you could set it up to only pickup voices on the left and ignore people (or unwanted sources) on the right.

4: the unit is very thin. lower profile than a PCC or PZM or any other boundary mic that I've used lately.

5: it has a capacitive touch mute button which is nice. (and you can disable it in software)

6: The controller box connects to the mic with a standard XLR3 so the controller (presumably) could be at the other end of a snake etc.

7: there is a setting that applies some auto-gain. since the mic triangulates the distance to the source it is able to compensate for volume variations over distance. This seemed to work pretty well except really close-up (which is obviously not the best use of this mic)

But the real important part: how does it sound?
well, I still haven't fully put it through its paces but so far it is VERY impressive.

In a large highly reverberant room with the PA on (decent PA that had pretty good GBF with an SM58)
and with the AM-1 *on the floor* (ie: 5'+ from my mouth) it sounded at least as good as a lavalier


I still want to play with it more, but it definitely seems like there's some good magic going on inside this thing and in the right situation I think it's probably worth the price tag.

As a side note the specs are vague on the vertical coverage pattern (all the fancy DSP is in the horizontal plane) so I want to try some further tests and maybe record them to see. wish I had the tech to plot a 3D sensitivity bubble

Jason
 

Jordan Wolf

Junior
Feb 2, 2011
271
0
16
Collingswood, NJ
partner.psav.com
Re: TOA AM-1 Array Microphone

Jason,

Do you know of any rental houses that carry this mic? I'd LOVE to bring one in sometime to play around with and use on shows.

So I haven't put it to use permanently yet but I did get to play with it on my desk as well as in a real-life situation and here are some initial observations:

1: unless I missed something the network setup is a pain (the control box that allows ipad control has an ethernet connection)
the app doesn't discover the mic so if you don't know what the IP is set to you're SOL. and I didn't see any factory reset option.

2: LOTS of flexibility in the capture/tracking settings. The unit tracks your voice and the settings allow you to set it to not track sources that are out of range (distance OR angle)

3: the acceptance angle doesn't have to be front and center. it can be asymmetrical, so for example you could set it up to only pickup voices on the left and ignore people (or unwanted sources) on the right.

4: the unit is very thin. lower profile than a PCC or PZM or any other boundary mic that I've used lately.

5: it has a capacitive touch mute button which is nice. (and you can disable it in software)

6: The controller box connects to the mic with a standard XLR3 so the controller (presumably) could be at the other end of a snake etc.

7: there is a setting that applies some auto-gain. since the mic triangulates the distance to the source it is able to compensate for volume variations over distance. This seemed to work pretty well except really close-up (which is obviously not the best use of this mic)

But the real important part: how does it sound?
well, I still haven't fully put it through its paces but so far it is VERY impressive.

In a large highly reverberant room with the PA on (decent PA that had pretty good GBF with an SM58)
and with the AM-1 *on the floor* (ie: 5'+ from my mouth) it sounded at least as good as a lavalier


I still want to play with it more, but it definitely seems like there's some good magic going on inside this thing and in the right situation I think it's probably worth the price tag.

As a side note the specs are vague on the vertical coverage pattern (all the fancy DSP is in the horizontal plane) so I want to try some further tests and maybe record them to see. wish I had the tech to plot a 3D sensitivity bubble

Jason



Sent from my iPhone
 

Jason Lavoie

Junior
Jan 13, 2011
459
0
16
Ottawa
Re: TOA AM-1 Array Microphone

Jason,

Do you know of any rental houses that carry this mic? I'd LOVE to bring one in sometime to play around with and use on shows.
I'm in Canada, so I doubt I would know one close to you, but at the same time I don't think this is something the rental houses will pick up on until it gets cheaper
Maybe the odd company that is really keen on solving problems or who has a customer who is willing to pay ~$300 rental to avoid having a mic in the sightlines.

Also, TOA not being a live sound focused company, and TOA mics not being on anyone's radar at all I think they have a long uphill battle before these become popular rental items.

Jason
 

Jordan Wolf

Junior
Feb 2, 2011
271
0
16
Collingswood, NJ
partner.psav.com
Re: TOA AM-1 Array Microphone

I'm in Canada, so I doubt I would know one close to you, but at the same time I don't think this is something the rental houses will pick up on until it gets cheaper
Maybe the odd company that is really keen on solving problems or who has a customer who is willing to pay ~$300 rental to avoid having a mic in the sightlines.

Also, TOA not being a live sound focused company, and TOA mics not being on anyone's radar at all I think they have a long uphill battle before these become popular rental items.

Jason
'Tis a shame. :-/

The Beyerdynamic one looks nice, too, but the ability to control the way it behaves makes the TOA mic much more desirable to me.

Maybe a call to TOA is in order...a demo would be fantastic!